For many parents, potato would be the number one food on their daily menu when a toddler exists in the family. Whether mashed, baked or roasted, people often consider potatoes as comfort food. It is an important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world. This sentiment probably inspired the potato’s scientific name, (Solanum tuberosum), since solanum is derived from a Latin word meaning “soothing”.
Potato is a round tuberous root which is brown outside and yellowish or reddish on the inside. The world’s favourite root vegetable, the potato, comes in numerous varieties. A member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes, it originated in South America and has been grown in Europe since the 16th century.
The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme north- western Bolivia between 8000 and 5000 BC. It has since spread around the world and become a staple crop in many countries.
Health Benefits Of Potato
A single baked potato will provide nearly 12 per cent of the daily recommended amount of fibre, giving similar levels to whole grain breads, pastas and cereals. High levels of dietary fibre and ‘bulking agents’ support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements, while giving a protective effect from colon cancer.
While most potato fibre is found in the skin, some of the starch in potatoes is indigestible. Instead it passes through the gut intact, adding bulk. If you suffer from sluggish bowel movements, eat cooked potatoes that have been cooled. The cooling process increases the amount of indigestible starch from seven per cent to thirteen per cent.
Proper functioning of the brain depends largely on the glucose level, oxygen supply, various components of the vitamin-B complex and certain hormones, amino acids and fatty acids like omega-3. Potatoes cater to almost all the needs mentioned above. They are high in carbohydrates, and thus maintain good levels of glucose in the blood. This prevents the brain from letting fatigue creep in and it keeps your cognitive activity and performance high. Also, the brain needs oxygen, which is carried to the brain by the hemoglobin in the blood; its main constituent is iron. Potatoes contain iron as well. Therefore, potatoes help deliver oxygen to the brain as well.
Kidney Stones, also known as Renal Calculi, are caused mainly due to increased levels of uric acid in the blood. In such cases, foods high in protein should be avoided, particularly animal proteins such as meat, turkey, shrimp, fish, eggs, and milk, as well as spinach, raw plantain, black grams and certain beans, which drastically increase the level of uric acid in the blood. Iron and calcium also contribute to forming the stones. Potatoes are rich in both of these so logically, they wouldn’t fit in as a preventative measure of kidney stones, but they also contain magnesium, which inhibits the accumulation or deposition of calcium (calcification) in the kidney and other tissues, thereby proving beneficial for treatment of renal calculi.
Potato as a skin care agent, vitamin C and B-complex as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc are good for the skin. Apart from that, pulp obtained from crushed raw potatoes, mixed with honey, can work well in skin and face packs. This even helps to cure pimples and spots on the skin. Again, this pulp, if applied externally on burns, provides quick relief and faster healing. Smashed potatoes, and even water in which potatoes have been washed, are very good for softening and cleaning the skin, especially around the elbows, and the back of the hands.
Potatoes provide the body with an essential source of fuel and energy, which you need even when dieting. As a rich carbohydrate source, they help to fuel all reactions in the body which you need for movement, thinking, digestion and cellular renewal.
Studies have even shown that potato juice taken with honey can be beneficial in heartburn, constipation, scurvy, arthritis, intestinal ulcers, indigestion and acidity.